The Unified Center of Workers (CUT
) led a march to the La Moneda presidential palace on June 7, as part of their campaign for Chile's minimum wage to be increased. According to the Santiago Times
, the monthly minimum wage is 182,000 pesos
($ 364). The union are calling upon state officials to increase the level to 250,000 pesos ($500), with a further 25% for the most economically deprived areas of the country.
The marchers reached the Office of Parties of the "La Moneda" and handed in a letter outlining their demands to the Chilean President Sebastián Piñera
, who, although independent, is linked with conservative parties.
The current minimum wage for Chile was set in July 2010. The annual minimum wage is equivalent to $4,368 per year, before any tax deductions. This stands against the average (mean) gross wage
of $5,484 per year. The main aim of a minimum wage is to reduce poverty and to reduce pay differentials between men and women. The argument is that this leads to a fairer distribution of income across the population, a sign of social injustice.
The leader of CUT Arturo Martínez outlined the views of the labor movement, quoted on the Nation
website "Tell us why it is not possible. Tell us, minister (Paul) Longueira or (Felipe) Larrain, why you earn 6 million and workers cannot earn 250 thousand? Tell MPs why they were raised 2 million, workers cannot have an increase of 250 thousand. Explain to the country that."
Earlier in the week, the government minister for finance Felipe Larrain had dismissed the workers demands, saying
that it would lead to "increases beyond productivity increases have an effect on employment . Then we have to worry about generating an improvement in purchasing power within what is responsible for not compromising employability."
However, the workers demands have been supported by the center-left Christian Democratic Party. At this stage it is unlikely that the workers demands will be met.